In an ideal world, you would never have to interact with the police at any point in your life. However, if you are driving and see flashing lights in your rearview mirror, it is important that you understand how to react. Knowing what to do in this situation can keep you safe and avoid any unnecessary charges being filed against you.
Immediately Pull Over
If you see a police vehicle’s flashing lights, the first thing that you need to do is pull over to the side of the road. Alternatively, you can pull into a parking lot or anywhere nearby where it is safe to do so. You do have the right to keep driving a reasonable distance to a lit parking lot or another public place if you have concerns for your safety.
While it may be tempting to do so, do not flee the scene or otherwise try to escape. You only increase the odds that you will get yourself or someone else hurt in the process, and you could face an evasion charge even if you otherwise did nothing wrong prior to the stop.
Keep Your Hands Visible
Ideally, you will have your hands on the steering wheel when the police officer walks to your car. There is no need to get your driver’s license or other forms of identification out until asked to do so. Remember, the officer has no idea if you are reaching for your insurance information or a gun. At no time should you say or do anything that comes off as threatening toward the officer. Merely touching him or her could result in an assault charge in addition to any other charges that you may face.
Show Identification When Asked to Produce It
By law, you are required to keep your driver’s license, proof of registration and proof of insurance in your car at all times. However, you are not required to answer any other questions or take any other actions unless the officer has probable cause or a warrant. This means that an officer is unable to search your vehicle without a warrant nor take a blood sample with your consent or a warrant.
Be Honest When Speaking With the Police
While you don’t have to say anything other than your name when asked by an officer, it may be in your best interest to cooperate as much as possible. If you do choose to speak, do not tell a lie or otherwise convey dishonest or misleading information. At best, the officer is simply going to become annoyed with you. At worst, you may face additional charges of obstructing justice.
Call a Lawyer If You Have Been Charged With a Crime
If you have been charged with driving under the influence or with any other charge after a traffic stop, you should contact a DWI lawyer immediately. If you don’t have money to pay for a lawyer, one will eventually be provided to you. Your attorney may be able to create a defense against the charge and look into any concerns that you may have had about how the officer treated you during the traffic stop.
Being stopped by the police is never a good feeling. Even if you have done nothing wrong, you may be scared at the thought of talking to someone in a position of authority. You may also worry about being late for work or to pick up your child from daycare. However, if you are cooperative, there is a good chance that your interaction with the police will only take a few minutes and result in nothing more than a warning or minor fine.
Author Info: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can find her on Twitter.